The United States of A-scare-ica

Map of US with Favorite Horror Movies Named

Clearly modern Americans love a good horror movie, but the movies that stoke their fears the most depend on which state they live in. Some movies are home runs across the country, like the 2017 remake of It—now the highest-grossing R-rated horror movie of all time—while others maintain their popularity within a single state.

Our team at CableTV.com took the IGN list of the top twenty-five horror movies and used Google Trends data to see which films captured the attention of which states. We also conducted a survey about when people start watching scary movies and which ones they find the scariest. See the full list of states below along with our in-depth analysis of what makes America scream the loudest.

It knows what it’s doing.

Our survey data echoes the box office’s grossing numbers when it comes to the popularity of the movie It. We asked people which movie was the scariest they’ve ever seen, and It was the most common response.

The Top 3 Scariest Movies Ever Made

#1. It

#2. The Exorcist

#3. Saw

It also took the top spot in our survey for the first scary movie people watched. We’re assuming many people are referring to the miniseries version from 1990—unless the 2017 reboot was popular enough to tempt them to take their first taste of the horror genre.

What’s the first scary movie you ever watched?

First Scary Movie Watched List

Terrors for Tots

One of the more revealing findings from our survey was when people began watching horror movies. The average age at which our survey respondents said they watched their first horror film was 7.2 years old. If that average held true when expanded to the full population, that would mean that the average American kid has seen a horror movie before they finish third grade. In an article full of scary movies, that fact terrifies us more than all of them.

Gif of scared man

Hometown Horror

Moving from our survey data to our Google Trends data, we found other interesting tidbits. Only three states’ favorite movies were set in the state where they were a favorite: Colorado with The Shining, Pennsylvania with Night of the Living Dead, and Texas with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Rural America fears The Ring.

The Ring Gif

The Ring, a scary film about watching a scary film, was the top horror movie in eighteen states. That’s the most states by far. The next-closest movie was The Silence of the Lambs, which was the most popular horror movie in five states. Sure, some people might say The Silence of the Lambs isn’t a horror movie, but we’re not here to debate that. It was on IGN’s list, so we think that qualifies.

The Ring was particularly popular in the South, where it ranked number one in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

The remaining ten states where The Ring was the most popular are heavily clustered in middle America. The exceptions were the two small northeastern states of Delaware and New Hampshire.

States Where The Ring Was the Most Searched

  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Notably absent from this list are states with larger population centers like California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. This may indicate that something about The Ring appeals to people in more rural areas where urban legends are more likely to ring true.

States vary on what’s scary.

Nineteen different horror movies were among the most searched in at least one state. Nine of those movies were the most searched in exactly one state. In other words, only nine states can claim they have an original favorite scary movie that isn’t claimed by any other state.

Favorite Scary Movies Unique to One State

Alien

Alaska

Jaws

Hawaii

Psycho

Minnesota

Bride of Frankenstein

Nevada

Let the Right One In

Washington

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Texas

Cabin in the Woods

Vermont

Night of the Living Dead

Pennsylvania

The Shining

Colorado

While all these movies evoke fear, their stories and styles are very different. This not only shows the diversity of cinematic material that can fall under the horror category, but it also shows how varied people’s tastes can be from state to state.

Favorite Horror Movie by State

StateMost Googled Movie
AlabamaThe Ring
AlaskaAlien
ArizonaThe Silence of the Lambs
ArkansasThe Thing
CaliforniaSuspiria
ColoradoThe Shining
ConnecticutThe Silence of the Lambs
DelawareThe Ring
District of ColumbiaThe Silence of the Lambs
FloridaScream
GeorgiaThe Ring
HawaiiJaws
IdahoThe Ring
IllinoisThe Exorcist
IndianaScream
IowaThe Silence of the Lambs
KansasThe Ring
KentuckyAn American Werewolf in London
LouisianaThe Ring
MaineSuspiria
MarylandThe Exorcist
MassachusettsRosemary's Baby
MichiganDawn of the Dead
MinnesotaPsycho
MississippiThe Thing
MissouriThe Ring
MontanaDawn of the Dead
NebraskaThe Ring
NevadaBride of Frankenstein
New HampshireThe Ring
New JerseyAn American Werewolf in London
New MexicoSuspiria
New YorkSuspiria
North CarolinaThe Ring
North DakotaDawn of the Dead
OhioThe Silence of the Lambs
OklahomaThe Ring
OregonSuspiria
PennsylvaniaNight of the Living Dead
Rhode IslandRosemary's Baby
South CarolinaThe Ring
South DakotaThe Ring
TennesseeThe Ring
TexasThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre
UtahThe Ring
VermontCabin in the Woods
VirginiaScream
WashingtonLet the Right One In
West VirginiaThe Ring
WisconsinThe Ring
WyomingThe Ring

What’s your favorite horror movie? Do you agree with the rest of your state? Let us know in the comments below, and share this with your friends. If you don’t, it’ll come back to haunt you in the sequel.